Grand designers Gwyn and Kate ap Harri took a leap into the unknown, rescuing a local old cinema in their home town and transforming it into a family house.

TV House The Old Cinema in South Yorkshire

All that remains of the former Kensington Palace Cinema is the original facade, to which Gwyn and Kate added the diving-board overhang

TV House The Old Cinema in South Yorkshire6

The couple, pictured here with their sons Jac and Dylan, were persuaded by designer Jeremy Southgate to use unfinished materials

When Gwyn and Kate ap Harri set out to find a house in their home town of Thorne, South Yorkshire, all they wanted was a bigger garden and an open-plan living space. What they ended up with is something they could never have imagined. The properties they were interested in were out of their budget, so they were considering building their own place when the old local cinema, a relic from the Twenties, came on to the market. They realised renovating it could give them everything they were looking for.

‘Even though it was a bit mad, it was a calculated risk,’ says Gwyn. ‘We went to the planners twice before bidding on the cinema building, and I was confident we’d get permission to turn it into our family home.’ Regulations insisted they maintain the property’s distinctive exterior shell, so they asked friend and designer Jeremy Southgate for help. He came up with an ambitious design full of concrete and steel, and although Gwyn and Kate were unsure at first, they agreed to go ahead.

TV House The Old Cinema in South Yorkshire7

With the 'Gwindow' raised, the living space is linked to the garden, which used to be the 300sqm auditorium

TV House The Old Cinema in South Yorkshire5

The couple ripped up the original terrazzo floor, which reminded Kate of her old school WCs, and replaced it with modern polished concrete

The old cinema is now a Modernist-style house, with white render and timber cladding. An open-plan living area is connected to the garden, which once housed the auditorium, by a giant hydraulic window. The interior is inspired by London’s brutalist National Theatre, with its board-marked concrete; this pushed them over budget, but it was worth it for Gwyn. ‘You have to strive to make something beautiful by being courageous. You have to really celebrate what you’re doing,’ he says.

TV House The Old Cinema in South Yorkshire2

A large kitchen diner runs along the back of the house, with access to the garden through Gwyn's beloved hydraulic window

TV House The Old Cinema in South Yorkshire2

Original arched windows at the front of the property are a major feature of the family bathroom

TV House The Old Cinema in South Yorkshire2

Gwyn and Kate’s master bedroom with en suite is decorated in soft greys to mirror the concrete walls

Photography: Darren Chung

Kevins Column

Top self build highlights at Grand Designs Live 2019 hosted by Kevin McCloud

Find top experts, specialist exhibitors and a wealth of inspiration for your self-build or renovation project all under one roof.
visit-award-winning-grand-designs-live-hosted-by-kevin-mccloud
 
 
grand-designs-the-street-tv-houses
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs: The Street TV houses by episode

We've rounded up all the pioneering TV houses featured on Grand Designs: The Street, featured on Channel 4 and hosted by Kevin McCloud.
grand-designs-the-street-episode-4
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs The Street episode 4: The Details

We've got all the details of episode 4 of Grand Designs: The Street, aired on 25th April 2019, at 9pm on Channel 4 and hosted...
grand-designs-the-street-episode-3
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs The Street episode 3: The details

We've got all the details of episode 3 of Grand Designs: The Street, set to air on 18th April 2019, at 9pm on Channel 4...
grand-designs-the-street-episode-2-sneak-preview
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs The Street episode 2: The Details

We've got all the details on episode 2 of Grand Designs: The Street, aired on 11th April 2019, at 9pm on Channel 4 and hosted...
grand-designs-the-street-episode-1
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs The Street Episode 1: The Details

We've got all the details of episode 1 of Grand Designs: The Street, aired on 4th April 2019, at 9pm on Channel 4 and hosted...
grand-designs-tv-house-britain-first-u-build-house
Grand Designs TV Houses

Grand Designs TV House: Inside UK's first U-Build house

Look inside the UK's first U Build box house to be featured on Channel 4's Grand Designs: The Street, hosted by Kevin McCloud.